Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Any Dick Francis fans been to the races?
Notices

Any Dick Francis fans been to the races?

Reply

Mar 18th, 2013, 10:56 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 55
Any Dick Francis fans been to the races?

I have read British author Dick Francis since I was a teenager and now that we are heading to the UK, I am drawn to going to the races! I am actually not a fan of betting, per se, and while I like horses, am not super into them. That said, it sounds FUN So, my question is if anyone has gone to the races and has any comments on the experience?

I am wondering about Kempton Park because there is racing there on the day we have a free evening. Just looking for your thoughts . . . thanks!
gogogriff is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 18th, 2013, 11:46 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,053
It's not clear what you mean by " I am actually not a fan of betting, per se".

If you're actually opposed to betting, and relatively uninterested in horses, I'd have thought you'd be rather bored. Racing is generally fun only if you've got some kind of stake (financial or emotional) in the races: it's immaterial to 99.999% of humanity whether Beggar's Bluff or Flying Filly win, and there are no great, universally appealing, athletic feats on display. You'd almost certainly get more excitement out of a cricket match, and certainly out of an international match if there was one on.

For most people: you turn up, choose a horse, put enough on it to make the race interesting (and doing so gives you a chance to get involved with on course betting), compare it in the parade ring with its competitors (or decide who to back after making the comparison) then cheer it to defeat. Console yourself with an only slightly overpriced glass of something and maybe a few oysters, then repeat the exercise a few times.

The likelihood is you'll win once, lose more often but actually spend more on the booze and snacks than on net losses.

100% sober, not involved in the betting, uninterested in horses and not part of the social chitchat (most people at races know lots of other people there) personally I'd die of boredom before the start of the the third race. But with a couple of glasses inside you and after losing £5 in each of the first two races, you've got a bond with the people in the next seat and start to understand what the fuss is all about.

Take cash. At most courses, the ATMs make more money than the catering concessions or the bookies.
flanneruk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 19th, 2013, 08:00 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,830
A friend and I went to the National Hunt Festival in March 2000 and watched the Championship Hurdle. any fan of Dick Francis would be crazy not to go to a race if they could. Every time I read (or re-read or re-read again) a book that takes place at Cheltenham, I can visualize the finishing run up the hill.

It is more fun if you bet. You can win for first through fourth place on many races, making it easier than US tracks to make some money. It doesn't matter which horse you bet on - just use your intuition. We drove through the town of Marlborough the day before, so when one horse had that in its name, we bet on it. It came in the money. Another one had Arizona in its name. Since we were from Arizona, we bet and won on it. The two fellows we met from Liverpool, who were big race fans, were amused at our picks, and stunned that we won!

Get out of the stands and see the jockeys get on their horses and walk to the track. Stand at the rail and watch the power of the horses.

One of the greatest days of my travels.
bigtyke is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 19th, 2013, 02:08 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 55
flanneruk and bigtyke- thank you for your helpful descriptions! They both give me a better idea of what the experience is about, and as you say, bigtyke, as a DF fan, I think I would be crazy not to go! Thanks!
gogogriff is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 19th, 2013, 02:22 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 11
Go to the races and bet on the gee-gees! Standing right on the rails, or at the saddling enclosure, you will get a sense of speed and power that is simply not possible to get any other way.

As for the betting, it's not like you're making this your life! You can put a pound on any one race and not care about losing - it's the adrenaline rush in cheering "your" horse on that will make the afternoon more perfect.

What makes it completely perfect, of course, is winning!

I didn't think that race meetings were held in the evening - do check that out when making all your many plans for this trip.
The8treGirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 19th, 2013, 02:35 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 3,083
You might want to check that evening fixture - it is probably flat racing.

Dick Francis mostly wrote about steeplechasing, also known as National Hunt racing, which involves horses and jockeys jumping fences and hurdles.

If this is what you are expecting, then a flat meeting may not quite live up to expectations.
julia_t is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 19th, 2013, 11:22 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,053
As a rough generalisation, National Hunt racing happens only during that part of the year when evening meetings aren't practicable.

The fact that gogogriff is contemplating an evening meeting implies the trip here is between May and September, when history indicates the ground will be too hard for safe jumping. There IS a National Hunt meeting in early May: but it's at Haydock Park, which is probably 200 miles out of gogogriff's way.
flanneruk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 19th, 2013, 11:27 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 41,318
I spent alot of time at race tracks as a late teen as my best friend's brothers worked at one. She later married a jockey, who won the Kentucky Derby. We were once photogrsphed at the Rockingham races for the local paper.
cigalechanta is online now  
Reply With Quote
Mar 20th, 2013, 09:02 PM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 55
Thanks for the thoughts on flat vs. jump racing. I did want to see the jump racing, but I am needing to fit racing into an already existing schedule, so I just looked for racing happening on the day/place I had more open. Kempton Park evening is where I landed. (I was heart-breakingly close to fixtures at Bath, but we just missed them.) I am traveling end of June / first of July, so flat racing it is.
gogogriff is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 21st, 2013, 06:40 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 76
gogogriff, Huge fan of DF books, particularly the early ones. I have enjoyed reading your comments as I also wanted to go England and attend a steeplechase race.

7 trips later I still haven't and hope you have a great time!
idesofmarch is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:12 PM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 55
idesofmarch- I'll let you know how it is! I am going to have to reread a few DF books before I go. SO excited!
gogogriff is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:13 PM.